Kiwi Cucumber Mint Salsa

Kiwi Cucumber Mint SalsaGrilling is traditionally a summer time activity and it’s about that time of year. Burgers, steaks, chicken, ribs, fish, vegetables, you name it! In our house we don’t let the season dictate grill time, we grill year round. I’ve been known to grill a steak while it’s snowing and my husband will grill in the rain. There is something relaxing about the time spent outside with a cool beverage in hand, staring off into the trees, while you cook your food over the flame that is relaxing, not to mention meat tastes awesome when it’s grilled.

This kiwi cucumber mint salsa is a perfect topping for food grilled on hot summer days. Spooned over grilled fish or chicken it’s tart and refreshing. It’s even awesome on non grilling days, on top of a burrito bowl with any protein to give it a little kick depending on how much jalepeno you add.

I used Kasandrinos extra virgin olive oil in the recipe because it’s the freshest best tasting olive oil I’ve ever tasted. All olives used in their oil are sustainably sourced from olive orchards in Laconia Greece and are pressed within 48 hours of harvest via cold extraction. If you check the harvest date on other olive oils on the store shelf, they were harvested months if not a year or more before it gets to you to purchase. The difference with Kasandrinos is it’s harvested, pressed, and then ready to purchase in a short amount of time. Which makes all the difference in taste, freshness, and quality. It’s pretty amazing stuff. I use it on salads with an acid such as lemon juice and in salsas, pesto, chimichuri, to roast vegetables, homemade mayo, and so much more.

Roll out the grill, take the cover off, get some heat going, and grill up something good!

Kiwi Cucumber Mint Salsa Ingredients

Kiwi Cucumber Mint Salsa

Prep time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 3 cups

Ingredients
  • 1 pound Kiwi (approximately 4 large Kiwi's), peeled and diced
  • ½ English Cucumber, Diced
  • 3 Green Onions, thinly chopped
  • 2 Tomatillos, diced
  • ½ to 1 Jalepeno, depending on personal spice preference, seeded and diced
  • Zest of 1 Lime
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I prefer Kasandrinos for taste and quality)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Mint, diced
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a medium sized bowl.
  2. Stir to combine.
  3. Serve and enjoy!
  4. Flavor will intensify and liquid will increase when refrigerated.

 

Sustainability, Stress, and Abs

Sustainability, Stress, and Abs or What I Took Away from Paleo f(x)

It’s difficult to write a blog post when a large purring orange cat is curled up on your arms and partially on your computer, but it’s even more difficult to write a blog post when you are still overflowing with information and processing it all. Paleo f(x), if you are unfamiliar with it, is a 3 day conference in Austin Texas covering all aspects of health from nutrition, to movement, to products.This year was my first year attending, and I was blown away by the impact the event had on me. There was an expo floor where I got to meet some of the amazing people behind my favorite companies and learn more about other products. Cooking demos and presentations by authors, bloggers, health professionals, and more were on-going all three days, it was often hard to decide which presentation to attend because there were so many amazing topics. With only 5 minutes between presentations it was often a mad dash to get to the next one. I attended workshops where I learned about training using biofeedback with Jen Sinkler and David Dellanave, plant medicine for the mind with Mike Bledsoe and Doug Larsen from Barbell Shrugged, and speed under the barbell with Dutch Lowy . I even got to briefly share a barbell with Steph from Stupid Easy Paleo and Stacy from Paleo Parents, both amazing women I respect greatly who help to encourage strong female lifters. I even got to be there and cheer on Nicole from Merit + Fork as she attempted her first barbell cleans. I had an amazing inspiring chat with other 21 Day Sugar Detox coaches, Diane Sanfilippo, and her team. And that isn’t even getting to the tip of the iceberg on other experiences.

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I know I’m missing touching on many other experiences, such as coincidentally finding out I was on the same flight to Austin and one row behind Suzie from The Tasty Remedy an amazing woman, fellow 21 Day Sugar Detox Coach, and friend. Or eating, and drinking butter coffee, at Picnik everyday we were in Austin or having some killer BBQ and eggs benedict. I was able to meet people I admire (or people I have only spoken to online) and new to me people I look forward to getting to know better such as Everett AKA Paleo FatKid, Maggie from Thrive Nutrition PDX, and Holly Morello from Nourishing Excellence.  I listened to presentations from some pretty amazing people such as Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Diana Rodgers, Maggie from Thrive Nutrition PDXBen Greenfield, Sarah Ballantyne, Dr. Andy Galpin, and so many more amazing people that it would take me forever to mention.

My overall takeaways from the weekend were a focus on reducing stress, the effects stress has on our every day lives, and sustainability is greater than abs. I learned about many applicable topics such as anabolic windows, carbohydrate timing, using real food to fuel for athletic activities, who a ketogenic diet may help and who it may be detrimental for, food and autoimmunity, and stress reduction. I came away feeling like I was hungover with information but so inspired to get back home to put everything in use for myself, family, and clients.

Oh, about those abs! Visible abs are such a sought after ideal that there are billions of dollars spent in the health and fitness industry to attempt to achieve them. Just watch television late at night or early in the morning for evidence. Most of the information shilled is false, if it were that easy or true everyone would have abs. It’s not always healthy to obtain those abs either at the cost of what else is sacrificed, such as hormonal health for women. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the idea of having visible abs myself, but the reality is it’s not possible for every man or woman to reach that ideal. And that is okay! Overall health and being at the right body proportions for your own body is more important. I do know people that have those visible abs and they have genetics on their side. In other words sustainability is greater than abs!

Overall Paleo f(x) was a whirlwind of activity that I hope to never forget. I’m already looking forward to next year for Paleo f(x) 2016!

Timeout: Why I Chose to Not Share

Timeout: Why I Chose to Not Share My Daughter’s Lives and Photos on Public Social Media

Recently I uploaded a photo to Instagram of a lunch I made for the girls and I. It was a Saturday, I was overloaded with homework and in need of a trip to the grocery store. But children get hungry. Especially our youngest who enjoys breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, etc., and they aren’t shy about being vocal in sharing their hunger. I threw together what I had, Cappellos gluten free gnocchi, asparagus, brown butter ghee, ground lamb, sage, and spinach. It was a pretty plate so I snapped a photo, posted it, and went back to my homework as the girls enjoyed their lunch.

THE photo that started it all.
THE photo that started it all.

Then I got the comments. That my children don’t exist. That they must be imaginary. That they must be some words I will not repeat in regards to my lovely bright sunshiny funny girls and no ‘real’ Mom could get her children to eat that way. I was asked to prove my children would eat that lunch. I deleted the comments.

When I decided to change my life with what I eat, I subsequently changed the lives of my whole family. The girls eat what we eat, mostly without complaint. They love vegetables. Being human and having cravings and wanting to enjoy life they also enjoy treats, the youngest will choose watermelon over candy any day. But I do not need to prove this to anyone by showing photos or videos of them eating and loving their vegetables, lamb, bone broths, gelatin gummies, or any of the meals they enjoy. Friends and family know this. The girls know this. It is what it is.

I’m no stranger to posting cute photos of my children to my personal Facebook page. I share photos of them being silly, performing in a play, eating giant turkey legs, or playing in the sunshine. I’m a proud parent with beautiful children and I love documenting our lives in photographs. But it’s not for public consumption. It’s for me, for them, for their Dad, for our family, and our friends. For our family we feel more comfortable not to share every moment with strangers.

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I chose to work online and help others with their nutritional needs and to improve their lives. I chose to put myself out there into the world of the internet where people can be mean, cruel, and hateful, but they can also be inspiring. My children did not choose this. Even before I started this work online I would not post photos of my children publicly online that identified them. I have posted photos without their gorgeous smiling faces, such as the photos above, but I choose to respect their privacy. I promise I do have children that have heads and faces, I just don’t share those heads and faces.  They are perfectly capable of choosing to share moments of their lives when they are older and understand the implications of doing this. Until then, as their Momma, I made the choice to not share this huge aspect of my life with the world.

I have no problem with other families who do not feel the same way I do and post photos of their children. I’m often the first person to like these photos as they often make me smile, laugh, and I love seeing how they have grown over the years. No shade to any parent who does this. I love seeing your children and your pets! I like them much more than your extreme close up selfies which are startling when I’m catching up on social media first thing in the morning. I respect this choice.

The internet can be a wonderful uplifting positive place, or it can be negative. I promote the wonderful and will not tolerate the negative. Play nice or don’t play at all.

 

Nourish Interview Series: Blaine McConnell

It’s submission day for the 2015 CrossFit Open workout 15.3, which means there are only 2 workouts left! Thank goodness. I don’t know about you but my legs are still on fire from all that work. Who knows what challenge will be thrown at us next. In the meantime let’s talk about nutrition and meet Blaine, bulletproof coffee lover and athlete to learn about his balanced, smart, and sensible approach to nutrition.  

Please introduce yourself. Who are you, what is your background professionally/athletically?

I am Blaine McConnell from Tacoma, WA.  I have been involved in athletics throughout my life and was fortunate enough to play at the Division 1 collegiate level.  After college I started doing more power lifting and plyometric type workouts since I have always liked to lift heavy and jump around.  I wanted to get back into competing and found CrossFit about a year and a half ago and got hooked on that style of fitness and competition.  Recently I have competed at the regional level on a team for the CrossFit Games, and even more recently signed with Phoenix Rise in the NPGL (National Pro Grid League).

Blaine McConnell, CrossFit NW Regionals 2014
Blaine McConnell, CrossFit NW Regionals 2014

What are your current goals? Are you training for something specific or training in general?

I am training for two main goals right now.  I am training for the 2015 CrossFit games, and also for the upcoming NPGL season in June.

What motivates you?

My motivations come from many different areas.  I have always been an athlete so competition runs through my blood.  Being in an atmosphere like CrossFit allows me to stay in a competitive environment and motivates me to get better every time I step in the gym.  Watching others do something great, it doesn’t necessarily have to be from the CrossFit world either, also motivates me.  Everything from seeing an athlete make a great play on the field to the mom with three kids kicking butt in the gym.  Seeing people go out and do great things helps give me more motivation to be great at what I am doing.

Tell me about your diet/eating philosophy.

My dieting and eating philosophy is very simple.  It all starts and ends with what you put in your body.  80% of what I can do in the gym and how I look comes from what I eat and when I eat it.  If you put in bad foods, you are going to perform bad and look bad.  If you put in good foods, you are going to perform good and look good.

How are you using nutrition to help reach your goals?

I am basically relying on my nutrition to help fuel me for workouts and help me recover after workouts so I can perform at my best.  I plan out my whole weeks worth of food in advance and pre-make my meals so I always have them with me after the gym, at work, and when I am out and about.

How important do you feel nutrition is to getting you to your goals? Would you still be able to achieve your goals without paying attention to your nutrition? 

Blaine McConnell, CrossFit NW Regionals 2014
Blaine McConnell, CrossFit NW Regionals 2014

I would not be able to achieve ALL of my goals without having the proper plan in place. I could probably achieve some, but I do not do what I do just to achieve some of my goals.  Having the proper nutrition for what you are trying to achieve, is like having an unfair advantage.  It becomes SOOO much easier to reach your goals when your workouts and you nutrition are working together to achieve the goal.  Rather than having great workouts and terrible nutrition fight each other the whole time.  Nutrition will win that battle every time.

Tell me about your nutrition journey. How did you find what works nutrition wise for you?

I played around a lot with my nutrition during college and still do to this day.  I have taken some nutrition courses in school, read books, and looked up articles to find ideas about what other people are doing and what I can learn to implement some of that for my own benefit.  I would find a nugget in a book, for example, about hydration and when the best times to hydrate before/during/after a workout and tried it out and it worked so I stuck with it.  I have also read an article about what to eat before a workout for energy, tried it, and not feel the benefit from it so I didn’t stick with that.  Doing little things like that and sticking with them have added up over time and basically become a true tailored nutrition plan for me.

What nutritional information have you learned that you find most people don’t know or find surprising?

Most people do not know WHEN to eat WHAT.  Nutrient timing is huge. For example knowing when the best times to eat your carbs can be the difference between recovering faster between workouts and feeling better, to storing more fat!  There are a lot of little things that you can tweak that people just have no clue about, and make a world of difference in how they feel and look.

What do you eat on a typical day? If you time your meals to a schedule according to your training, when do you typically eat?

I always time my meals according to my training.  I usually get up around 6am and make my bulletproof coffee.  Bulletproof coffee is black coffee (no sugars, no creamers), with 1 tablespoon of MCT oil (for energy and healthy fats), 2 tablespoons of unsalted grass fed butter (for good fats and energy) and 30g of protein.  The bulletproof coffee helps kick start your day AND your metabolism as well.  It basically gets the furnace burning and kick starts your body in to fat burning mode.  I could go on and on about the benefits but there are many many articles online about the benefits of bulletproof coffee.  About an hour after that I go train at the gym.  After my workout is when I eat the majority of my carbs.  I usually drink a protein shake with 40g of protein and add some extra carbs, about 200-300g depending on how hard my workout was, to help refuel and recover faster.  A couple hours after that I usually have 8-10oz of lean meat (chicken, fish, turkey) along with a sweet potato and asparagus.  An hour after that I usually snack on some almonds or a bar and have another bulletproof coffee.  2-3 hours later I usually eat 10-12oz of lean meat and cut out some of the carbs and just stick to about 1 cup of mixed veggies.  Then before bed I will snack on something small like a bar so I don’t go to bed on an empty stomach.  And throughout all of that I am constantly staying hydrated.

Do you change your nutrition in preparation for a competition?

In preparation for a competition I do not change what I eat.  I perform best when I stick with my routine.  The day of the competition may be different because I could be doing multiple events in a day which would make me change my protein and carb intake a little so I can recover between events, but as in preparing for the competition I have found that sticking with my daily routine will keep me at me best.

What are your favorite pre and post workout snacks?

Since I workout in the morning my favorite pre workout snack is my bulletproof coffee.  There are sometimes when I will skip the usual protein shake and go for some chocolate milk and a donut! Sounds terrible I know, but sometimes after a really long and tough workout, you just need it!

Blaine McConnell, CrossFit NW Regionals 2014
Blaine McConnell (with the CrossFit Nine 2014 NW Regionals team from left to right – Adam Kraft, Alex Konicke, Emily Emery, Keri Arvidson, and Chelsea Nicholas), CrossFit NW Regionals 2014

Do you plan your meals? If so, how do you plan and what tips do you have for others who might need help planning their meals?

I do plan my meals.  If I did not I would just go order some food which is what most people do too.  I usually make 3 days to a weeks worth of meals on the weekend and then if I need to make the other 2-3 days worth of food for the rest of the week later on.  It is easier for me to break it up in two cooking sessions so then you don’t have to spend 5 hours in one day trying to do the whole week at a time. I would say that would be the biggest tip for people starting out.  Do not try to make the whole weeks worth the first time you want to plan your meal.  Start with 3 days for the week.  Then if you have time, a few days later make a few more days worth and your life will be much easier.

What is your favorite treat meal?

PIZZA!! I love pizza.  Treat meals or cheat meals are the best way to keep your sanity.  Some people start a meal plan and they get depressed because they think they can never eat the fun foods again in their lives, which is 100% not true.  You can, you just can’t go crazy and let one meal turn into one day and then lead into one week of treating yourself, because then you are really cheating yourself.

How important is supplementation to you? Do you think supplementation is required of an athlete to have the best measure of success or do you think nutrition and training are enough?

First off I like to break supplementation into two groups.  Performance supplements, and Sexy supplements.  Performance supplements are things like creatine, pre workout powders, BCAA and other things that can physically help you perform better in the gym. Which if used right can definitely assist in you in achieving your performance goals.  I myself take creatine and BCAA powders because I train hard and my body cannot physically perform at the level I need it to without supplementation.  Sexy supplements are things like energy boosters, fat burners/weight loss pills, and other supplements along those lines.  Which are ones that no one needs to take. With proper nutrition you can achieve your results better and keep those results longer than using “sexy” supplements.  When you take things like energy boosters, energy drinks and fat burner/weight loss pills, you throw off your body’s natural ability to produce the things your body can to give you energy, help boost your metabolism and lose weight.

What suggestions or advice would you give others who are trying to optimize their nutrition to nourish and fuel their bodies?

For anyone who is not an elite level athlete, DO NOT MAKE DRASTIC CHANGES IMMEDIATELY.  I had to all caps that because it is super important.  If you are a person who eats a ton of sweets, do not stop cold turkey and throw out all of your sweets tomorrow.  You will go insane, have withdrawals and eventually give in and go on a bender eating every doughnut in site.  Same with the person who drinks a lot of soda, do not stop drinking soda all together in one day.  Start off by trimming a little off the top, as I like to say.  If you eat a bag of skittles every day, start by not eating them on Mondays. Then when that feels comfortable, cut out Monday and Wednesday. And so on and so forth until you have cut out sweets.  Same with the soda drinker, if you drink 3 cans of soda every day, start by cutting it down to 2 cans, then cut out a day, then 2 days.  Then start substituting. Every time you get a craving on your day you are not suppose to eat those skittles eat some fruit instead, or when you have the craving for a soda, drink some water or even get some of those calorie free flavored waters.  Moderation is the best way to succeed.  Eventually they build up and when you look back you see the drastic change has been made all while taking these baby steps along the way.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

The last thing I would like to share is that no one meal plan is perfect and no one person is perfect.  If you started a new plan and it isn’t going as well as you had hoped (and hopefully this feeling is not on day 3) then don’t get discouraged and quit.  Anything worth having takes time.  Nutrition takes time, results take time.  No one person is perfect either.  So if you cheated on your meal plan and ate a bag of chips, don’t beat yourself up about and just give up on the whole thing.  I to this day, have days where I feel like it was just a terrible day and the only thing that will make me feel better is some Ben and Jerry’s.  Just don’t let that day become every other day ok! Stick to your guns and stay the course.

Where can people follow you?

You can follow me on Instagram @blaine_mcconnell and see how I train, how I eat and how I like to unwind.


 

Like the Nourish Interview Series? Be sure to sign up for the Nourish to Fuel newsletter in the sidebar so you don’t miss out on upcoming interviews. 

Missed a Nourish Interview Series post? Check out the first interview with Chelsea Nicholas here and the second interview in the series with Alex Konicke here.

Or maybe you have an interesting take on nutrition or a story to share about how nutrition has changed your health or life? You don’t have to be an athlete to be considered. If you’d like to be considered for a future Nourish Interview Series post, email support@nourishtofuel.com with a brief introduction to yourself for consideration and more information.


 

 

 

Kasandrinos Olive Oil

Instant Pot Corned Beef

Instant Pot Corned BeefOh lovely March, when you arrive so does the corned beef! The Smithsonian online magazine has an excellent article describing how corned beef evolved from salted beef made with the ash of burnt seaweed to a dish Irish American immigrants shared with Jewish immigrants. The salt cured and slow cooked meat was a way to transform a tough cut of meat into tender flavorful corned beef. Add some potatoes and cabbage, cooked in the same liquid as the corned beef, and you have an easy tasty meal. Corned beef and cabbage is especially easy to enjoy today when you cook it in an Instant Pot.

While you can brine your own beef brisket, I prefer to save time and purchase already brined brisket. Most of the corned beef available in the grocery store is gluten free, unless a malt vinegar is used in the brine (not likely). Just be sure to check the package label and ingredients to be sure. You can also purchase corned beef from your local butcher and even Costco carries a grass-fed gluten free corned beef this year.

About those potatoes? The second half of the recipe below is for cabbage, carrots, and yes potatoes to be cooked in the same liquid the corned beef was cooked in. The corned beef and the vegetables cook at different times in the Instant Pot which is why this is a two step process, the good thing is corned beef tastes great even if it isn’t super hot just from the pot so don’t worry about it getting cold while you cook the vegetables. While potatoes may not fit into your personal diet template, they fit in ours, so I’ve included them. It is okay to exclude them and just make the cabbage and carrots to serve alongside your corned beef.

Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

Rating 

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Two Step Process- After cooking the Corned Beef in your Instant Pot, remove the corned beef from the pot and strain the liquid with a slotted spoon to remove any large pieces of fat and herbs. Retain liquid in pot as it will be the same liquid you use to cook the second half of the recipe- Cabbage, Carrots, and Potatoes.
Ingredients
  • 3-4 pound Corned Beef Brisket
  • 3 cups Beef Broth
  • 3 cups Water
  • 1 Shallot, peeled and roughly chopped (substitute ¼ medium onion)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and whole
  • 15 Whole Black Peppercorns
  • 9 Whole Allspice
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 5 sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 6 small to medium Red Potatoes, rinsed and cut into eighths (optional)
  • 5 Carrots, peeled and cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • 2 Shallots, minced (substitute ½ minced onion)
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon Diamond Kosher Salt
  • 1 head green Cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
Instructions
  1. Place corned beef brisket in Instant Pot fat side up. Add beef broth, water, rough chopped shallot, 3 garlic cloves, peppercorns, allspice, bay leaves, and thyme.
  2. Place lid on Instant Pot in locked position, making sure vent is sent to "sealing". Plug in Instant Pot.
  3. Press "Manual' and "+" to increase cooking time to 60 minutes at High Pressure.
  4. After a moment the display will turn to "On" while the pot heats up and pressure increases, once the pot has warmed up the display will start counting down.
  5. When finished cooking wait to open lid until the pressure float is down on it's own, or release pressure manually by moving vent to "venting". Unplug Instant Pot.
  6. Remove Corned Beef from pot, saving liquid for cabbage, carrots, and optional potatoes. Cover corned beef with aluminum foil and set aside.
  7. Strain cooking liquid with a slotted spoon to remove fat, bay leaves, and thyme.
  8. Place optional potatoes, carrots, shallots, garlic, and salt into cooking liquid then place cabbage on top.
  9. Place lid on Instant Pot in locked position, making sure vent is sent to "sealing". Plug in Instant Pot.
  10. Press "Manual' and "+" to increase cooking time to 10 minutes at High Pressure.
  11. After a moment the display will turn to "On" while the pot heats up and pressure increases, once the pot has warmed up the display will start counting down.
  12. When finished cooking wait to open lid until the pressure float is down on it's own, or release pressure manually by moving vent to "venting". Unplug Instant Pot.
  13. Remove vegetables from Instant Pot and serve with sliced corned beef.
  14. For Slow-Cooker Variation
  15. Place all ingredients except cabbage (corned beef, beef broth, water, 3 shallots, 5 cloves garlic, peppercorns, allspice, bay leaves, thyme, optional potatoes, and carrots) in large slow-cooker (7 quart or larger), and cook on high for 4 hours.
  16. Add cabbage on top of corned beef, cook for another hour on high.

 

Instant Pot Corned Beef

 


 

US Wellness Meats